While it is unknown if there ever was a man named Homer, there is no doubt that the epic poems assembled under his name form the cornerstone of Western literature, feeding our imagination for over two and a half millennia. The Iliad and The Odyssey, with their tales of the Trojan War, Achilles, Ulysses and Penelope, the Sirens, the Cyclops, Helen of Troy, and the petulant gods, are familiar to most readers because they are so pervasive. From Plato to Virgil, Pope to Joyce, the poems have been told and retold, interpreted and embellished. In this graceful and sweeping book, Alberto Manguel traces the lineage of the poems from their inception and first recording. He considers the original purpose of the poems--either as allegory of philosophical truth or as a record of historical truth--surveys the challenges the pagan Homer presented to the early Christian world, and maps the spread of the works around the world and through the centuries. Manguel follows Homer through the greatest literature ever created and, above all, delights in the poems themselves.